Philippians 3:4b-14 (NRSV)
Verse 4even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: Verse 5circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; Verse 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Verse 7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. Verse 8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Verse 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. Verse 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, Verse 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Verse 12Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Verse 13Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, Verse 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
Living in a world where we are judged according to what we are able to do, it is tempting to apply that same measure to our relationship with God. The apostle Paul, as a devout Pharisee, knew all about that dynamic, believing he was made right with God by keeping God’s law blamelessly. But the resurrected Jesus literally met him and turned him around on his way to Damascus to persecute Jesus’ followers there. He realized that God loved him already and gave him worth that far surpassed anything Paul could have imagined. Now Paul lived to demonstrate his thanks to God for the gift of faith which released him from the fear of not being able to do enough.
Just as for the apostle Paul, Jesus gave his life for us. That realization does not make us proud or boastful, but ones who share the joy of that awesome good news, and are encouraged to use our God-given gifts to be Christ’s presence in the world.
Compassionate God, shine your love into our hearts so that we may reflect your love to those around us. Amen.